Updated: Jun 3
As someone who loves recruitment and football games and school supply shopping and starting new classes, Fall is an amazing time to be in Iowa City. And yet, I chose to miss out on it all and go abroad to Tunisia, the Fall of my junior year. It wasn’t lost on me that a whole semester in Iowa City would go by, a semester of birthdays and late night study dates with my friends in the library, sisterhoods and Bid Day, and I wouldn’t be there for it. That was something that I spent a lot of time thinking about leading up to the day I left for Tunisia.
Tunisia is a small country, about the size of the state of Georgia, on the Northern Coast of Africa in between Algeria and Libya. Needless to say, it was an environment that I had never experienced before. A strange and beautiful environment. Seriously though, if you ever want to look at pictures of one of the most beautiful places in the world search “Sidi Bou Said Tunisia” on Pinterest. This is the village I lived next to and it’s famous for its blue doors.
Within the first few days of being there I knew that I had made the right call and that I would never regret spending my semester 6,600 miles from home. I was with an amazing group of people in a beautiful country and was almost too busy to think about what I was missing.
The homesickness came in waves. Homesickness for my family back in San Francisco. Homesickness for Iowa City. Homesickness for the 815 and all the Zeta ladies under its roof, both literally and metaphorically. But I knew that if I was homesick I could literally pick up my phone and call anyone in the chapter and they would answer (most of the time, sometimes I did forget to calculate the time difference).
For the most part it was easy to stay in contact with my friends. We made a point to make regular FaceTime calls and I sent them postcards, most of which arrived. One of my favorite memories was having my roommates, who I met in Zeta, FaceTime me to sing to me on my birthday. It was the little things like that that would make my day.
When I was having a rough day the first people I would call would be my best friends in Zeta and they would always be there for me to lean on. Unwavering in their support. Just as they were when I returned to Iowa City in January.
Studying abroad is an amazing opportunity, if you have the flexibility in your schedule and the opportunity to do it, you should. Especially if you have people like the women in the AO chapter of ZTA to come back to.